Cleaning out the spring practice notebook
Without a doubt the player who made the biggest impression this spring was Cameron Echols-Luper, the transfer from TCU with the world class speed.
Echols-Luper did it all, returned a kickoff for a touchdown, threw passes, ran with the ball as runner and receiver and even punted.
Asked how he would like to have to prepare for Echols-Luper as an opponent defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen said “I’d would not want any part of that. And the way Buster (Faulkner) is using him. One thing you did not see was him lining up at quarterback but I anticipate we will see that as we move along. He can line up anywhere.
“I’m glad there is only one of him and I’m glad that we have got him.”
“We stayed really consistent defensively all the way through. They started with tremendous intensity and finished with it. Excited to see how guys took ownership of being bounced around and put at different spots.
“There were a lot of positives. You going into spring expecting them to be good and you come out of it thinking they might be even better.”
Cauthen said the most impressive part of the spring was the “amount of recall we had from the season. That was a big surprise. We were able to move forward. I did not anticipate that and the effort level was good.”
No doubt the defense was at an advantage because of facing a depleted offensive line but still the Defensive coordinator was pleased.
“I’m real excited, and I think all the coaches are, of what we have here in the future,’’ he said.
“We have been working to get our numbers up and we are really, really close to getting it right. We are dang near where we need to be, just need a couple of more guys to add some depth and we are working on those.”
“Chris bounced out to cornerback and did not miss a beat,’’ said Anderson. “Kyle Wilson stepped in there and played both spots well. There were just a lot of positives.”
Cauthen said the work with Wilson, Humes and Woodson allowed the Red Wolves “to develop depth and to see if those guys could play those spots if we needed. I like to move guys around in the spring to teach different positions.”
Receivers coach Luke Paschall said “everybody wins if you come out healthy.
Well the Red Wolves lost Chris Murray to a broken ankle and he had surgery immediately after the game. Anderson said surgery went well and he should be back and ready by August.
Anderson has indicated that AState may bring one or more kickers into the Fall.
J.D. Houston and Elliot Cockrum handled the placekicking duties in Spring and appeared to be jostling for the top spot as neither seemed to emerge as the clear leader.
Houston was also in the punter battle with Damon Foncham who has dazzled in practice but struggled under game conditions. Echols-Luper has participated in the punting battle as well.
Anderson: “It was good. It is more about fan interest, the alumni coming back and the former players.”
The offensive line
It was tough. We have eight guys for the spring game and three of those were hobbled. We will be a different team when we get Jemar Clark, Tank Moreton and Joe Bacchus back along with the guys we are bringing in.
One of those was Matt Guevremont from Chabot (Calif.) College who was there for the spring game.
Clark and Moreton missed all of the spring work while Bacchus was injured the week of the Little Rock scrimmage.
Throughout spring the staff declined to formally rank the QB's but December transfer Justice Hansen began taking more and more of the first team snaps. James Tabary by the end of the spring period seemed to be fighting Cameron Birse for the number two slot rather than challenging Hansen for the number one slot. Tabary's dismissal seems to have resolved any questions about the starting slot barring dramatic changes or injuries in the fall.
"It is still a work in progress,’’ said assistant coach Luke Pachall. “but you look at them and you can immediately see there is a lot of speed, a lot of size. They look great, like a big time receiving corp. they really do look the part but there is just not a lot of experience.
“We send nine guys out there and all can play. There is not much letdown
Dijon Paschall, Chris Murray and Sterling Stowers are the only returnees who have caught passes for the Red Wolves.
Jake Swalley, Griffin Riggs and Donovan Ransom did not work during spring practice and Caleb Caston missed the finale because of injuries.
“Those guys being out gave a few more reps to guys like Javier Carbonell and TJ Harris and they played well,’’ said D Line coach Brian Early.
Carbonell is an interior defensive lineman from Bentonville while Harris is a defensive end from Tulsa. Both are redshirt freshmen.
The team has two weeks of school left with workouts with Matt Shadeed then will be off for three weeks until the start of the first summer term in June.
“When they get back they will have daily workouts with Shadeed and about 2 PRPs, which are player run practices, a week. They will all be here for the summer and after the second summer term will get about five days off before preseason practice resumes when they report on Aug. 3.